We are about to study a very unusual woman. You may never have thought of this "person" as a woman but I guarantee you that she has a lot to teach us.
Let's look at our story and see if you don't agree with me. (ReadNumbers 22:21-34.) Do you see her? No, she is not the angel of the Lord! You will see why later. Look again, ladies, and be prepared to cringe.
I'm afraid that our woman is Balaam's ass! I know you don't want to believe me but look closer at the following verses:
(Numbers 22:23) And the ass saw the angel of the LORD standing in the way, and his sword drawn in his hand: and the ass turned aside out of the way, and went into the field: and Balaam smote the ass, to turn her into the way.
(Numbers 22:25) And when the ass saw the angel of the LORD, she thrust herself unto the wall, and crushed Balaam's foot against the wall: and he smote her again.
(Numbers 22:27) And when the ass saw the angel of the LORD, she fell down under Balaam: and Balaam's anger was kindled, and he smote the ass with a staff.
(Numbers 22:28) And the LORD opened the mouth of the ass, and she said unto Balaam, What have I done unto thee, that thou hast smitten me these three times?
(Numbers 22:33) And the ass saw me, and turned from me these three times: unless she had turned from me, surely now also I had slain thee, and saved her alive.
I'm afraid there is no denying it, ladies. Balaam's ass is a woman. But unlike other asses that you and I have met, this one has something good and very important to teach us.
There are two things to keep in mind as we look at this story. First of all it is important to understand that the angel of the Lord in this passage is a pre-incarnate appearance of Jesus Christ. Now what does that mean? Before His appearance on the earth as a man, Jesus appeared in the form of an angel to men and women in the Old Testament, hundreds of years before His birth.
Let's look at a few examples so you will better understand what I am saying.
(Genesis 18:1-15) And the LORD appeared unto him in the plains of Mamre: and he sat in the tent door in the heat of the day; And he lift up his eyes and looked, and, lo, three men stood by him: and when he saw them, he ran to meet them from the tent door, and bowed himself toward the ground, And said, My Lord, if now I have found favour in thy sight, pass not away, I pray thee, from thy servant: Let a little water, I pray you, be fetched, and wash your feet, and rest yourselves under the tree: And I will fetch a morsel of bread, and comfort ye your hearts; after that ye shall pass on: for therefore are ye come to your servant. And they said, So do, as thou hast said. And Abraham hastened into the tent unto Sarah, and said, Make ready quickly three measures of fine meal, knead it, and make cakes upon the hearth. And Abraham ran unto the herd, and fetched a calf tender and good, and gave it unto a young man; and he hasted to dress it. And he took butter, and milk, and the calf which he had dressed, and set it before them; and he stood by them under the tree, and they did eat. (These sound like real men to me. Ghosts don't eat.)
And they said unto him, Where is Sarah thy wife? And he said, Behold, in the tent. And he said, I will certainly return unto thee according to the time of life; and, lo, Sarah thy wife shall have a son. And Sarah heard it in the tent door, which was behind him. Now Abraham and Sarah were old and well stricken in age; and it ceased to be with Sarah after the manner of women. Therefore Sarah laughed within herself, saying, After I am waxed old shall I have pleasure, my lord being old also? And the LORD said unto Abraham, Wherefore did Sarah laugh, saying, Shall I of a surety bear a child, which am old? Is any thing too hard for the LORD? At the time appointed I will return unto thee, according to the time of life, and Sarah shall have a son. Then Sarah denied, saying, I laughed not; for she was afraid. And he said, Nay; but thou didst laugh.(These were not three ordinary men. Two were angels and one was Jesus Christ.)
The Bible says Sarah laughed within herself; she did not laugh out loud so no one heard her. Yet this "man" knew she laughed and asked her why she did. When she tried to deny it He very clearly told her not only that He knew she did laugh but also why she did - because she didn't believe what He said. Only God can read our thoughts. We saw this when we studied the life of Hannah. Eli was a priest and yet he didn't understand the prayer she "spake in her heart" (1 Samuel 1:13) but God did.
(Genesis 18:16-33) And the men rose up from thence, and looked toward Sodom: and Abraham went with them to bring them on the way. And the LORD said, Shall I hide from Abraham that thing which I do; Seeing that Abraham shall surely become a great and mighty nation, and all the nations of the earth shall be blessed in him? For I know him, that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the LORD, to do justice and judgment; that the LORD may bring upon Abraham that which he hath spoken of him. And the LORD said, Because the cry of Sodom and Gomorrah is great, and because their sin is very grievous; I will go down now, and see whether they have done altogether according to the cry of it, which is come unto me; and if not, I will know. And the men turned their faces from thence, and went toward Sodom: but Abraham stood yet before the LORD. And Abraham drew near, and said, Wilt thou also destroy the righteous with the wicked? Peradventure there be fifty righteous within the city: wilt thou also destroy and not spare the place for the fifty righteous that are therein? That be far from thee to do after this manner, to slay the righteous with the wicked: and that the righteous should be as the wicked, that be far from thee: Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right? And the LORD said, If I find in Sodom fifty righteous within the city, then I will spare all the place for their sakes. And Abraham answered and said, Behold now, I have taken upon me to speak unto the Lord, which am but dust and ashes: Peradventure there shall lack five of the fifty righteous: wilt thou destroy all the city for lack of five? And he said, If I find there forty and five, I will not destroy it. And he spake unto him yet again, and said, Peradventure there shall be forty found there. And he said, I will not do it for forty's sake. And he said unto him, Oh let not the Lord be angry, and I will speak: Peradventure there shall thirty be found there. And he said, I will not do it, if I find thirty there. And he said, Behold now, I have taken upon me to speak unto the Lord: Peradventure there shall be twenty found there. And he said, I will not destroy it for twenty's sake. And he said, Oh let not the Lord be angry, and I will speak yet but this once: Peradventure ten shall be found there. And he said, I will not destroy it for ten's sake. And the LORD went his way, as soon as he had left communing with Abraham: and Abraham returned unto his place.
Why was Abraham so concerned about God's plan to destroy Sodom and the people who lived there? Because his nephew Lot lived in Sodom. In verse 22 it says Abraham stood before the Lord as he pleaded for the life of Lot.
(Genesis 32:24-30) And Jacob was left alone; and there wrestled a man with him until the breaking of the day. And when he saw that he prevailed not against him, he touched the hollow of his thigh; and the hollow of Jacob's thigh was out of joint, as he wrestled with him. And he said, Let me go, for the day breaketh. And he said, I will not let thee go, except thou bless me. And he said unto him, What is thy name? And he said, Jacob. And he said, Thy name shall be called no more Jacob, but Israel: for as a prince hast thou power with God and with men, and hast prevailed. And Jacob asked him, and said, Tell me, I pray thee, thy name. And he said, Wherefore is it that thou dost ask after my name? And he blessed him there. And Jacob called the name of the place Peniel: for I have seen God face to face, and my life is preserved.
(Exodus 3:2-4) And the angel of the LORD appeared unto him in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush: and he looked, and, behold, the bush burned with fire, and the bush was not consumed. And Moses said, I will now turn aside, and see this great sight, why the bush is not burnt. And when the LORD saw that he turned aside to see, God called unto him out of the midst of the bush, and said, Moses, Moses. And he said, Here am I.
(Judges 6:12-23) And the angel of the LORD appeared unto him, and said unto him, The LORD is with thee, thou mighty man of valour. And Gideon said unto him, Oh my Lord, if the LORD be with us, why then is all this befallen us? and where be all his miracles which our fathers told us of, saying, Did not the LORD bring us up from Egypt? but now the LORD hath forsaken us, and delivered us into the hands of the Midianites. And the LORD looked upon him, and said, Go in this thy might, and thou shalt save Israel from the hand of the Midianites: have not I sent thee? And he said unto him, Oh my Lord, wherewith shall I save Israel? behold, my family is poor in Manasseh, and I am the least in my father's house. And the LORD said unto him, Surely I will be with thee, and thou shalt smite the Midianites as one man. And he said unto him, If now I have found grace in thy sight, then show me a sign that thou talkest with me. Depart not hence, I pray thee, until I come unto thee, and bring forth my present, and set it before thee. And he said, I will tarry until thou come again. And Gideon went in, and made ready a kid, and unleavened cakes of an ephah of flour: the flesh he put in a basket, and he put the broth in a pot, and brought it out unto him under the oak, and presented it. And the angel of God said unto him, Take the flesh and the unleavened cakes, and lay them upon this rock, and pour out the broth. And he did so. Then the angel of the LORD put forth the end of the staff that was in his hand, and touched the flesh and the unleavened cakes; and there rose up fire out of the rock, and consumed the flesh and the unleavened cakes. Then the angel of the LORD departed out of his sight. And when Gideon perceived that he was an angel of the LORD, Gideon said, Alas, O Lord GOD! for because I have seen an angel of the LORD face to face. And the LORD said unto him, Peace be unto thee; fear not: thou shalt not die.
(Judges 13:2-22) And there was a certain man of Zorah, of the family of the Danites, whose name was Manoah; and his wife was barren, and bare not. And the angel of the LORD appeared unto the woman, and said unto her, Behold now, thou art barren, and bearest not: but thou shalt conceive, and bear a son. Now therefore beware, I pray thee, and drink not wine nor strong drink, and eat not any unclean thing: For, lo, thou shalt conceive, and bear a son; and no razor shall come on his head: for the child shall be a Nazarite unto God from the womb: and he shall begin to deliver Israel out of the hand of the Philistines. Then the woman came and told her husband, saying, A man of God came unto me, and his countenance was like the countenance of an angel of God, very terrible: but I asked him not whence he was, neither told he me his name: But he said unto me, Behold, thou shalt conceive, and bear a son; and now drink no wine nor strong drink, neither eat any unclean thing: for the child shall be a Nazarite to God from the womb to the day of his death. Then Manoah entreated the LORD, and said, O my Lord, let the man of God which thou didst send come again unto us, and teach us what we shall do unto the child that shall be born. And God hearkened to the voice of Manoah; and the angel of God came again unto the woman as she sat in the field: but Manoah her husband was not with her. And the woman made haste, and ran, and showed her husband, and said unto him, Behold, the man hath appeared unto me, that came unto me the other day. And Manoah arose, and went after his wife, and came to the man, and said unto him, Art thou the man that spakest unto the woman? And he said, I am. And Manoah said, Now let thy words come to pass. How shall we order the child, and how shall we do unto him? And the angel of the LORD said unto Manoah, Of all that I said unto the woman let her beware. She may not eat of any thing that cometh of the vine, neither let her drink wine or strong drink, nor eat any unclean thing: all that I commanded her let her observe. And Manoah said unto the angel of the LORD, I pray thee, let us detain thee, until we shall have made ready a kid for thee. And the angel of the LORD said unto Manoah, Though thou detain me, I will not eat of thy bread: and if thou wilt offer a burnt offering, thou must offer it unto the LORD. For Manoah knew not that he was an angel of the LORD. And Manoah said unto the angel of the LORD, What is thy name, that when thy sayings come to pass we may do thee honour? And the angel of the LORD said unto him, Why askest thou thus after my name, seeing it is secret? So Manoah took a kid with a meat offering, and offered it upon a rock unto the LORD: and the angel did wonderously; and Manoah and his wife looked on. For it came to pass, when the flame went up toward heaven from off the altar, that the angel of the LORD ascended in the flame of the altar. And Manoah and his wife looked on it, and fell on their faces to the ground. But the angel of the LORD did no more appear to Manoah and to his wife. Then Manoah knew that he was an angel of the LORD. And Manoah said unto his wife, We shall surely die, because we have seen God.
Why were all these people afraid when they realized that they had seen God? Because the Bible says that anyone that looked upon the Lord would surely die.
(Exodus 33:17-23) And the LORD said unto Moses, I will do this thing also that thou hast spoken: for thou hast found grace in my sight, and I know thee by name. And he (MOSES) said, I beseech thee, show me thy glory. And he (GOD) said, I will make all my goodness pass before thee, and I will proclaim the name of the LORD before thee; and will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show mercy on whom I will show mercy. And he said, Thou canst not see my face: for there shall no man see me, and live. And the LORD said, Behold, there is a place by me, and thou shalt stand upon a rock: And it shall come to pass, while my glory passeth by, that I will put thee in a clift of the rock, and will cover thee with my hand while I pass by: And I will take away mine hand, and thou shalt see my back parts: but my face shall not be seen.
InJohn 1:18 and 1 John 4:12 the Bible says, "No man hath seen God at any time:".
Who then did Abraham, Jacob, Moses, Gideon and Samson's parents see? If not God in person, and if they had they would have surely died, then they saw God in the form of a pre-incarnate Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ is the Son of God and He is also God.
John 1:1says, "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God." Who is the Word? Go down a few verses to John 1:14, "And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth."
We now know three things about the "Word." First, He was made flesh which means He took on a human form. Second, He dwelt among us which means He lived on the earth at some time. Third, He was the only begotten of the Father. "Only" means just one and "begotten" means to procreate or to beget. Now turn toJohn 3:16, "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life."
The only person in the Bible who fits all three of these descriptions is Jesus Christ.
Jesus took on human form as stated inMatthew 1:18, "Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise: When as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost."
He came to earth and lived for at least 33 years.Luke 3:23 says, "And Jesus himself began to be about thirty years of age, being (as was supposed) the son of Joseph, which was the son of Heli," This was the start of His ministry.
And He is the only begotten Son of God. So we can conclude that the Word, Jesus Christ, is God just likeJohn 1:1 says.
Now what do we mean by Incarnate? Incarnate means "clothed with or embodied in flesh". (Noah Webster's First Edition of An American Dictionary of the English Language, 1828 edition)
Pre-incarnate, therefore, means before fleshly embodiment. So these appearances were made before Jesus came to earth in human form.
NOTE: Since the angel of the Lord in all these stories is Jesus Christ then you can see right there that the angel could not be a woman. As a matter of fact, the concept that angels are women has NO foundation in the Scriptures. The Bible clearly teaches that angels are MEN! (That is another study in itself.)
Getting back to our story, the second thing to keep in mind is that in the Scriptures, the ass is the "type" or representation of a lost person. What do I mean by "type"? The physical, in this case the ass, shows or represents a spiritual counterpart, a lost person. ("The physical shows the spiritual" by Dr. Michael E. Todd)
There are three responses that a lost person can give when it comes to accepting Jesus Christ as their personal Saviour. The Bible says inActs 17:32, "And when they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some mocked: and others said, We will hear thee again of this matter. So Paul departed from among them. Howbeit certain men clave unto him, and believed: among the which was Dionysius the Areopagite, and a woman named Damaris, and others with them.
I believe the three responses of Balaam's ass when she encountered the angel of the Lord, Jesus Christ, represent the three responses of a lost person in this story. Let's take a closer look at each one.
In verse twenty-three the ass clearly saw the angel of the Lord because the angel of the Lord revealed Himself to the ass. As I've already stated, in the Bible, the ass represents a lost person.
God reveals Himself to the lost in a number of ways:
(Romans 1:20) For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse:
What are some of the invisible things God created that can now be seen quite clearly by man? Planets, stars, and galaxies. How are they understood? By the invention of telescopes, satellites, and probes that have "discovered" what was there all along from the beginning.
(Job 12:7-9) But ask now the beasts, and they shall teach thee; and the fowls of the air, and they shall tell thee: Or speak to the earth, and it shall teach thee: and the fishes of the sea shall declare unto thee. Who knoweth not in all these that the hand of the LORD hath wrought this?
What do the animals teach us? If you lived on a farm or have ever visited one you know that one of the things the animals can teach us is about the miracle of birth.
(Psalm 19:1-5) The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament showeth his handiwork. Day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night showeth knowledge. There is no speech nor language, where their voice is not heard. Their line is gone out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world. In them hath he set a tabernacle for the sun, Which is as a bridegroom coming out of his chamber, and rejoiceth as a strong man to run a race.
Did you know that the stars sing? God created them to do that. It has only been recently that man "discovered" this "phenomenon". God's creation preaches to the lost world.
(Romans 2:14-15) For when the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these, having not the law, are a law unto themselves: Which show the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts the mean while accusing or else excusing one another;
Even a lost person recognizes when the law is broken. How? His conscience tells him.
(2 Timothy 3:16) All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:
Since God wrote the Bible (using forty men over a period of 1,600 years) you can rely on the fact that He wants to tell us something. What He wants to tell us is who He is, what He does and what He is like - His personality.
(Jeremiah 3:15) And I will give you pastors according to mine heart, which shall feed you with knowledge and understanding.
There were many great men of God in the Bible: Abraham, Moses, Elijah and Elisha, David, Daniel, John the Baptist, and the apostle Paul. There have been many great men of God in recent history: Peter Cartwright, Billy Sunday, Mordecai Ham, George Mueller, Dwight Moody and Lester Roloff to name a few. And there are great men of God today: Bro. Sam Gipp, an evangelist and defender of the King James Bible; Bro. Gerry Sutek, a street preacher challenging the attack on the first amendment (the right to freedom of speech) of the Constitution; Bro. Scott Strobel, uncompromising in his beliefs and my Pastor; and Dr. Michael Todd, preacher, teacher, soul-winner, missionary, and my beloved husband.
(Psalm 68:11) The Lord gave the word: great was the company of those that published it.
Gospel tracts are an important way to get the gospel out to a large part of the population who may never have the opportunity to be reached in any other way.
(Mark 16:15) And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.
There are literally millions of people who would never hear the gospel message or come to accept Jesus Christ as their personal Saviour if missionaries did not heed the call in this verse.
(John 1:40-42) One of the two which heard John speak, and followed him, was Andrew, Simon Peter's brother. He first findeth his own brother Simon, and saith unto him, We have found the Messias, which is, being interpreted, the Christ. And he brought him to Jesus. And when Jesus beheld him, he said, Thou art Simon the son of Jona: thou shalt be called Cephas, which is by interpretation, A stone.
After Peter's conversion, the first person he finds is his own brother, Andrew, and brings him to the Lord. Peter started his soul-winning career with his own family.
(John 1:43-46) The day following Jesus would go forth into Galilee, and findeth Philip, and saith unto him, Follow me. Now Philip was of Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter. Philip findeth Nathanael, and saith unto him, We have found him, of whom Moses in the law, and the prophets, did write, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph. And Nathanael said unto him, Can there any good thing come out of Nazareth? Philip saith unto him, Come and see.
When Philip found the Lord he immediately went and found someone, and told him and testified that Jesus was the long-awaited for Messiah.
So you see, the lost person has no excuse for denying the existence of God or rejecting the need for Jesus Christ as their Saviour.
Now, the first time the ass sees the angel of the Lord, the Bible says, she "turned aside out of the way and went into the field." You see this in verse twenty-three of our text. The ass went her "own" way. This is the response of many lost people when they hear about Jesus Christ for the first time.
"I don't need God."
"I can take care of myself."
"I am my own boss."
"I will do my own thing my own way and nobody can stop me."
"All I have is because of me, not God."
"What did God ever do for me anyway?"
Many mock, as Paul said in Acts 17. What arrogance and what utter foolishness! (Luke 12:16-20) And he spake a parable unto them, saying, The ground of a certain rich man brought forth plentifully: And he thought within himself, saying, What shall I do, because I have no room where to bestow my fruits? And he said, This will I do: I will pull down my barns, and build greater; and there will I bestow all my fruits and my goods. And I will say to my soul, Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years; take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry. But God said unto him, Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided?
You say you don't need God. You say you provide for yourself and your family. You say God never did anything for you. Okay, Miss Big Shot, let me ask you a few questions if I may. Who gives you the health and strength to work to provide for yourself? Who allows you to have a job so you could afford to pay your rent and buy groceries to eat and clothes to wear? The reason you don't think you need God is because of pride and being unthankful for what you have.
You see most people will gladly take the credit for the good things that come their way but will quickly blame God for the bad things. "Look at the new house; the new car; the new boat; the new television; the new stereo; the new job the I got." Not that "God allowed me to have."
Oh, no, it's "Why did God allow me to get cancer?" "Why did God allow my child to die?" "Why did God allow me to lose my job?" Do you know why "God allows" bad things to happen to people? Because He is trying to get their attention and first He has to get it off of other things!! We need to be thankful to God for everything, good and bad, alike.
Let me remind you that God wasn't made to please us. We were made by God to have fellowship with Him and to worship and praise Him. It's pretty hard to thank God when every sentence begins with, "Look what I:," isn't it?Revelation 4:11, "Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created."
The Bible says, "in the beginning GOD." Not you. Not me. Not anybody or anything else. Just GOD. Then God gave some things to man for his pleasure and so he could live.
(Genesis 1:27-31) So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them. And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth. And God said, Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in the which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for meat. And to every beast of the earth, and to every fowl of the air, and to every thing that creepeth upon the earth, wherein there is life, I have given every green herb for meat: and it was so. And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good. And the evening and the morning were the sixth day.
Do you see anywhere in those verses where it says that man provided for himself and did it all without any assistance from God? I sure don't! You won't even find that mentioned in the modern per-versions (NIV, RSV, Good News for Modern Man, etc.).
David acknowledged how insignificant he was inPsalm 8:3-9, "When I consider thy heavens, the work of thy fingers, the moon and the stars, which thou hast ordained; What is man, that thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that thou visitest him? For thou hast made him a little lower than the angels, and hast crowned him with glory and honour. Thou (GOD) madest him (MAN) to have dominion over the works of thy hands; thou hast put all things under his feet: All sheep and oxen, yea, and the beasts of the field; The fowl of the air, and the fish of the sea, and whatsoever passeth through the paths of the seas. O LORD our Lord, how excellent is thy name in all the earth!"
InGenesis 18:27, "And Abraham answered and said, Behold now, I have taken upon me to speak unto the Lord, which am but dust and ashes:"
Adam was told by God inGenesis 3:19, "In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return."
Whenever you find yourself thinking too highly of yourself just remember that the Bible says we were made from the dust of the ground, not from gold dust!!
The Bible warns us about thinking too highly of what we possess and not enough about God. (James 5:1-3) Go to now, ye rich men, weep and howl for your miseries that shall come upon you. Your riches are corrupted, and your garments are motheaten. Your gold and silver is cankered; and the rust of them shall be a witness against you, and shall eat your flesh as it were fire. Ye have heaped treasure together for the last days.
All that material wealth will not do anybody any good at the judgment. As a matter of fact it says in this passage that it will bear witness against us. Just like a Christian lays up treasure for himself in heaven by the good works he does AFTER salvation (Matthew 6:19-21), lost people are laying "up" treasure in hell by making their possessions their God.
Now look atverse 25 of our text. The second time the ass met the angel of the Lord she thrust herself against the wall. She was fighting against God. Like many lost people she didn't want to face the issue head-on. This is the second response of the lost toward salvation.
"Maybe some day, when I'm ready, but not now."
"I don't have the time to think about it now."
"Maybe after I get married and settle down I will have the time."
"Right now, I'm busy. Talk to me later."
Do you realize that later may never come. God will not always leave the door open. The Bible says in2 Peter 3:9, "The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance."
And nobody is more longsuffering than God, but He will not wait forever. The longer a person rejects God and puts off accepting Jesus Christ the harder his heart becomes to the invitation. (2 Corinthians 6:2) (For he saith, I have heard thee in a time accepted, and in the day of salvation have I succoured thee: behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.)
If you have never accepted Jesus Christ as your Saviour, do not delay any longer. Do it today.
Philip P. Bliss, a great hymn writer who lived during the mid-eigthteen hundreds, wrote these words:
"Almost persuaded" now to believe; "Almost persuaded" Christ to receive;
Seems now some soul to say, "Go Spirit, go Thy way,
Some more convenient day on Thee I'll call."
"Almost persuaded," come, come today; "Almost persuaded," turn not away;
Jesus invites you here, Angels are lingering near,
Prayers rise from hearts so dear, O wanderer, come.
"Almost persuaded," harvest is past! "Almost persuaded," doom comes at last!
"Almost" cannot avail; "Almost" is but to fail!
Sad, sad, that bitter wail, "Almost," but lost!
Almost according to the dictionary means "nearly." When Paul was sent to Jerusalem he was able to preach to Festus and to King Agrippa. He told them how he persecuted the Christians with zeal until he met the Lord on the road to Damascus. He proclaimed the gospel of Jesus Christ, unashamedly, to these men and their wives. Let's pick up the story and see the response of one of them.
(Acts 26:24-28) And as he thus spake for himself, Festus said with a loud voice, Paul, thou art beside thyself; much learning doth make thee mad. But he said, I am not mad, most noble Festus; but speak forth the words of truth and soberness. For the king knoweth of these things, before whom also I speak freely: for I am persuaded that none of these things are hidden from him; for this thing was not done in a corner. King Agrippa, believest thou the prophets? I know that thou believest. Then Agrippa said unto Paul, Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian.
Agrippa came so close but he refused to believe. As there is no written record of his salvation we must assume that he did not accept Jesus Christ as his Saviour and is in hell today. Agrippa was not someone that an ordinary person would have contact with. But through divine intervention he heard the gospel from one of the greatest preachers in his day and yet he would not repent and get saved. Pride kept him from humbling himself. Agrippa was "almost persuaded." Sad, sad that bitter wail, "almost" but lost!
Let's look at our text again for the final response of the lost to the gospel of Jesus Christ. Inverse 27 the ass's response was one of submission. The third time she knelt down. This is the right response.
(Acts 16:25-31) And at midnight Paul and Silas prayed, and sang praises unto God: and the prisoners heard them. And suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken: and immediately all the doors were opened, and every one's bands were loosed. And the keeper of the prison awaking out of his sleep, and seeing the prison doors open, he drew out his sword, and would have killed himself, supposing that the prisoners had been fled. But Paul cried with a loud voice, saying, Do thyself no harm: for we are all here. Then he called for a light, and sprang in, and came trembling, and fell down before Paul and Silas, And brought them out, and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved? And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.
When the Philippian jailer recognized the power that Paul and Silas had from God he realized that he had to get saved. He knew that he couldn't fight against such power because it had to come from God. So he asked what he needed to do. Look at verse 31.
Paul responded that he needed to get baptised, right? No! Oh, I'm sorry, Paul told him he needed to live right and do good works. What! He didn't say that either. Well then he surely must have told him that he needed to join a church or generously give his money to help the poor. Wrong again! I can't believe it! Well what did he tell him then?
Go back and look atActs 16:31 again, "And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house." Is that all? It sounds so simple. Yes, it does, doesn't it.
But Jesus said that all you need is simple childlike faith. (Mark 10:14) But when Jesus saw it, he was much displeased, and said unto them, Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God. Verily I say unto you, Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child, he shall not enter therein.
It's that simple. Don't complicate it. Just humble yourself, admit that you are a sinner and that you cannot save yourself. Most importantly, don't delay any longer. Do it today.
What is the significance of the ass in relation to the angel of the Lord in this story? It was an ass that Jesus rode upon when He entered Jerusalem during the Passover just before His crucifixion. It is no coincidence that Jesus rode on the back of an ass. Remember the ass represents a lost person. Jesus was the only one who could sit on a wild ass and have that animal submit to Him and ride on Him without putting up a fuss. When Jesus comes into a lost person's heart there is peace.
This scene was predicted by the prophet Zechariah during his ministry which begin approximately in 520 B.C.
(Zechariah 9:9) Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion; shout, O daughter of Jerusalem: behold, thy King cometh unto thee: he is just, and having salvation; lowly, and riding upon an ass, and upon a colt the foal of an ass.
This is one of the Old Testament Messianic prophesies that was fulfilled in the New Testament in all four gospels (ref:Mark 11; Luke 19 and John 12). We are going to look at the account in the gospel of Matthew.
(Matthew 21:1-5) And when they drew nigh unto Jerusalem, and were come to Bethphage, unto the mount of Olives, then sent Jesus two disciples, Saying unto them, Go into the village over against you, and straightway ye shall find an ass tied, and a colt with her: loose them, and bring them unto me. And if any man say ought unto you, ye shall say, The Lord hath need of them; and straightway he will send them. All this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying, Tell ye the daughter of Sion, Behold, thy King cometh unto thee, meek, and sitting upon an ass, and a colt the foal of an ass.
This prophecy was written almost 550 years before it was fulfilled. There are over 400 such prophecies written about Jesus Christ foretelling his birth and his earthly ministry.
There were about 30 prophecies fulfilled the day Jesus died. Let me give you just a few.
Old Testament New Testament
Exodus 12:46 John 19:36
When a lamb was offered as a sacrifice in the Old Testament besides having to be spotless its legs were not to be broken. When Jesus, our sacrificial Lamb, was crucified the legs of the two thieves crucified with Him were broken but His were not.
Psalm 22:1 Matthew 27:46
This is a prayer of David and foretells the crucixion and the words Jesus would speak.
Psalm 22:7-8 Matthew 27:39-44
This is talking about the people who would mock Jesus as He hung on the cross and challenge Him to come down off the cross if He truly was God like He claimed to be.
Psalm 22:16 John 19:18
This is talking about the nails prints in His hands and feet.
Psalm 22:18 Matthew 27:35
This predicts what they would do with His clothes. How they would cast lots for His robe.
Psalm 31:5 Luke 23:46
One of the seven sentences that Jesus spoke as He hung on the cross.
Psalm 35:11 Mark 14:56
Jesus was innocent so they had false witnesses testify against Him.
Psalm 41:9 John 13:18
This talks about how Judas would betray Christ.
Psalm 69:21 Matthew 27:34
This is talking about giving vinegar to Jesus to drink when He said He was thirsty.
Isaiah 50:6 Matthew 26:67
This describes the trial of Jesus and how He was beaten and spit upon.
Isaiah 53:3 John 1:11
This talks about the Jews rejecting Christ as their Messiah.
Isaiah 53:5,6,10 Romans 5:6,8
This also talks about the trial and how Christ was treated.
Isaiah 53:9 Matthew 27:56-60
This talks about the tomb where Jesus would be buried.
Amos 8:9 Matthew 27:45
This talks about the darkness that fell over the earth during the crucifixion.
Zechariah 12:10 John 19:34
Tells of when they pierced the side of Jesus as He hung on the cross.
Zechariah 13:7 Mark 14:27,50
This predicts how His followers would all forsake Him and flee when He was arrested.
No other "great religious leader" of the past, living today or in the future will ever be able to make the same claim about their lives and prophecies. No one! The very fact that only Jesus Christ can, should tell you that He was indeed God.
Why would you want to follow anyone else? Why believe in Joseph Smith (Mormons) who predicted many things but none of them came true? Why believe in Ellen G. White (SDA) who had visions that were proven false? Why believe in the Jehovah Witnesses who never know if they are going to make it to heaven until they die? Why not believe in Jesus Christ?
Every word written in the Bible is true. There are no errors and no contradictions. The writings and prophecies of the other "cults" (Mormons, Adventists, Jehovah Witnesses, Benny Hinn, Kenneth Copeland and the rest of the Charismatic crowd) all have fatal errors in their writings. How do I know? Because everyone of them have had to make corrections to their writings because of false prophecies.
Now, not all Bibles are correct. Many have changed the pure Word to suit their own tastes. For instance, the NIV (New International Version) leaves out or changes many references to sodomy because two of the women on the translation committee were lesbians. (SeeLeviticus 18:22; Leviticus 20:13; Romans 1:27; 1 Corinthians 6:9) The Bible says in Psalm 12:6, "The words of the LORD are pure words: as silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times."
If you are here today and you know you are lost or not sure you are going to heaven when you die, please do not leave without making a decision about what you are going to do with Jesus Christ. Don't continue to avoid the issue. Face it and get it settled now. (2 Corinthians 6:2) (For he saith, I have heard thee in a time accepted, and in the day of salvation have I succoured thee: behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.)
The only thing worse than continuing to put off a decision for Christ is to totally turn your back on Jesus Christ.
Don't depend on money or position to get into heaven. (Mark 10:17-27) And when he was gone forth into the way, there came one running, and kneeled to him, and asked him, Good Master, what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life? And Jesus said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God. Thou knowest the commandments, Do not commit adultery, Do not kill, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Defraud not, Honour thy father and mother. And he answered and said unto him, Master, all these have I observed from my youth. Then Jesus beholding him loved him, and said unto him, One thing thou lackest: go thy way, sell whatsoever thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, take up the cross, and follow me. And he was sad at that saying, and went away grieved: for he had great possessions. And Jesus looked round about, and saith unto his disciples, How hardly shall they that have riches enter into the kingdom of God! And the disciples were astonished at his words. But Jesus answereth again, and saith unto them, Children, how hard is it for them that trust in riches to enter into the kingdom of God! It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God. And they were astonished out of measure, saying among themselves, Who then can be saved? And Jesus looking upon them saith, With men it is impossible, but not with God: for with God all things are possible.
No, money and position will not help you at the judgment.
Don't depend on the fact that you are a good person and do good works. (Isaiah 64:6) But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses (good works) are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away. God doesn't think much of our good works. (See also Psalm 14:3; Psalm 53:3; Romans 3:10; Romans 3:12)
No, good works will not help get you into heaven.
Don't depend upon living a good clean life (by your standards) and trying to do right. Do you keep ALL the Ten Commandments every day?
Have you lied today? The Bible saysExodus 20:16, "Thou shalt not bear false witness : "
What about wanting something that someone else had? The Bible says inExodus 20:17, "Thou shalt not covet : "
Have you put anything above God lately, like television, family, job, clothes, etc. The Bible says inExodus 20:3, "Thou shalt have no other gods before me." Matthew 22:37-38 says, "Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment."
How are you doing? What about the other 2,700 points of the law? Oh, you didn't know about those? Well then I guess you are not keeping those either?
What are you doing to do with this verse?James 2:10 says "For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all."
No, trying to keep the law and do right will not help you get to heaven.
Don't depend upon your repeated prayers to Mary and the saints to get to heaven either. God gave us the formula for praying inLuke 11:2-4. It has become known as the "Lord's Prayer" and unfortunately adopted by many "cults" as the perfect prayer. But Jesus did not tell us to repeat it verbatim every day. It was given as an example in HOW to pray and not WHAT to say each time. There is a BIG difference. God is NOT impressed with the same prayers uttered over and over again. (Matthew 6:7) But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking.
No, I'm afraid praying to anyone other than God himself, saying the rosary or repeating the same words every time you prayer will not make enough of an impression on God to get you into heaven.
What do you need to do? Only what the Bible says. (Acts 16:31) And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.
I told you before that it was simple.
(Romans 3:23) For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;
(Isaiah 59:2) But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear.
(Romans 6:23) For the wages of sin is death;
This death is described in the Bible as the second death (spiritual death) and eternal separation from God.
(Revelation 20:14-15) And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.
(Romans 5:8) But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.
(2 Corinthians 5:21) For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.
(1 Peter 3:18) For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit:
You MUST realize that Jesus Christ was not a sinner and that God took all of our sins and placed them on Jesus at the cross. While Jesus was bearing all of our sins in His own body, God punished Him in our place to pay the sin debt that we owe. Jesus became our substitute.
(Ephesians 2:8-9) For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.
(Romans 10:9-13) That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed. For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him. For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.
(John 1:12) But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name:
The word "believe" means to trust or to depend on. To believe on the Lord Jesus Christ means that you accept the following facts:
To believe means going beyond mere intellectual assent. It means to place your faith totally in Him, plus nothing, minus nothing, forever to save you from hell, forgive you of your sins, and give you the gift of eternal life. Most importantly, when you completely trust in Him to get you to heaven, it will be forever settled, once and for all.
Would you accept Jesus Christ today?
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